Oddball Aircraft



“General Gilmore & Staff”, 1930

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

General Gilmore was Chief of the Air Corp’s Material Division where, naturally, he had a trusty staff to make things easier. That staff included Captains Frank Andrews and Laurence Kuter, and Major Henry Arnold. These men would achieve three, four, and five-star rank in the coming years. All of the men in this photo are wearing mourning bands but I am unable to ascertain who it was that died. The location of the photo is Wright Field, the aircraft, a Curtiss B-2 Condor of the 96th Bomb Squadron.

F-86 meets its fate in Fresno


Although there was an F-86 squadron at Fresno, Ca. during the 1950’s, this is not one of theirs. The date is July 19, 1958, and this F-86E (51-12994) of the Van Nuys Airport based 195th Fighter Interceptor Squadron has met its fate away from home. Mechanical difficulties brought about this mishap which was sufficient enough to write-off the aircraft.

Air Corps maneuvers, Malone, NY, 1939

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

Photos #1 & #2 show a squadron of O-47’s lined up while on maneuvers at the Malone, NY, airfield. A couple of BT-2’s and a B-10 are thrown in for good measure.

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)

A mass of struts and wires, an O-43 waits beside the less strutted (but less graceful appearing) O-47’s.

Webp.net-resizeimage (4)Webp.net-resizeimage (5)

Classy gas truck fills up the beasty O-47’s.

Webp.net-resizeimage (6)

Lt. Howard Means and crew deplane after a grueling mission over upstate New York.


O-43 (33-271) gets a few tweaks before darting back in the sky.

Lightning Strikes: F-5’s & P-38’s

Webp.net-resizeimage (8)

F-5 42-13095 of the 12th Photo Recon Squadron zooms in for landing at its base in Italy. This aircraft carried three names: “Shark” on the nose. “Louise” on the left engine nacelle, “Vera” on the right.

Webp.net-resizeimage (6)Webp.net-resizeimage (7)

Two shots of “Anna” landing in Italy. Note the local civilian onlookers.

Webp.net-resizeimage (9)

F-5 “Hoppy” flares for landing.

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Webp.net-resizeimage (4)

F-5F 44-26045 was transferred to the Chinese Air Force. The same thing happened to the B-24 in the background, 44-42270. Perhaps all of the aircraft pictured were similarly transferred (?)


P-38J 44-25605 was modified to a personal transport for General George Stratemeyer. Perched in the Plexiglas nose, he had the best seat in the house.

Webp.net-resizeimage (5)Webp.net-resizeimage (2)Webp.net-resizeimage (3)

Early P-38’s. Marvelous aircraft.

B-47 Stratojets in Phoenix


I do not know what the occasion was, but these bombers are not what one typically finds crowding your city airport (there are at least a dozen B-47’s), in this case, Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Judging by the vehicles at the Avis Rent-A-Car, I would say this slide photo dates from circa 1954. There is a 1962 date stamped in the slide, but I think that is when a copy was made. My evidence: the B-47’s in 1962 wore different markings, and, the rental cars are all early to mid-1950s vintage – a company like Avis would have much newer cars on the lot way before 1962.

The Immortal Jimmy Doolittle

Webp.net-resizeimage (1) - CopyAlready a legend in aviation, on January 23, 1930, Lieutenant Doolittle was in New York as the Air Corps advisor on construction of Floyd Bennett Field. Happily enough, he signed the back of his calling card for an admirer. Only three weeks later, Doolittle resigned from the active duty Air Corps and went to work for Shell Oil. He retained a commission in the Reserves, and was, of course, back in uniform for World War II and further exploits.

Berliner-Joyce OJ

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)

The prototype XOJ-1 (A8359) seen at NAS Anacostia. Note the machine gun mounted in the upper wing. The hangars of the Air Corp’s Bolling Field are in the background. It was not unusual at the time for the Army and Navy to have a patch of ground they practically shared but were in fact distinctive and separate airfields. Those days are over; today the 100 year old facilities are known as Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

Two views of an immaculate OJ-2 (A9196) at Boeing Field. Aircraft was assigned to Naval Air Reserve Base Seattle just a few miles up the road.

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)

Open house at CGAS St. Petersburg

Webp.net-resizeimage (4)Webp.net-resizeimage (3)Webp.net-resizeimage (1)

Above: B-18’s of the 32nd Bomb Squadron have flown cross-country from there home at March Field Ca. The B-18 would become a familiar sight to locals when MacDill Field opens nearby in 1941.


Douglas O-25

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

Classy mom and dad. The hangar still stands, and the base is still in use today, but is no longer an air station; it is now USCG Sector St. Petersburg.

C-47 and B-36’s at Carswell AFB

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)

This photo, among other things, illustrates just how flat the world can be – that is downtown Dallas in the far distance. The C-47 says MATS (Military Air Transport Service), but is also assigned to Airways and Air Communication Service (AACS). MATS was higher up the totem pole than AACS, hence the wing markings) The B-36’s are of Carswell’s 7th Bomb Wing.

The XB-19 buzzing the field

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)

Lesson of the day: Do not always trust the caption on a photo. This one states the photo was taken at Long Beach, California, in 1941. A sharp-eyed reader noted something in the photo that puts that caption in doubt: There appears what seems to be piles of melting snow. For those not familiar with the climate of Southern California, there is about as much a chance of it snowing in Long Beach as there is in Miami Beach. Further reflection makes me guess this photo was not taken in 1941, but rather 1942. The aircraft is painted, and still has radial engines (It was re-engined with Allisons in 1943).

But, where then was the photo taken? I took a guess, looked at some old photos for verification, and can confirm the aircraft is approaching the west side of Wright Field, Ohio. (And hey: It snows there often.)

The 零式艦上戦闘機 of the US Navy

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Webp.net-resizeimage

The  “零式艦上戦闘機” (or, “rei-shiki-kanjō-sentōki”) is better known to the rest of the world as the Mitsubishi Zero. The first image is the intact Zero brought back from the Aleutian Islands in 1942. It is seen here at NAS North Island in that same year. The second image is of what I assume to be a different aircraft some six or seven years later at NAS Whidbey Island.

I was quite surprised to find this photo showing a Zero still around well after the war. It is at least 1948: There are P2V Neptunes in the background as well as an R5D coded “RS” of VR-5. That tail code entered service in 1948.